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Parliament goes hi-tech to curb absenteeism

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Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, has said the Parliament chamber in Lilongwe will soon be fitted with high technology gadgets that will check the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) reporting for deliberations in an effort to check absenteeism that has reportedly reached worrying levels.

Speaking in an interview, Msowoya said though there are, in some cases, justified reasons that result into MPs absenting themselves the trend affects business in the house.

“A presiding Speaker wants a full house to carry out business in the house and when most of the MPs fail to avail themselves, some things are affected. It becomes surprising to see a full house when there is contentious business in the house going on but the moment it is settled, MPs walk out,” Msowoya said.

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Asked whether the system that was introduced recently that included deducting daily sitting allowance of the MPs has failed, Msowoya said parties on both sides of the house have always justified reasons behind the parliamentarians’ conduct.

“A list of those absent is compiled and referred to the leadership of both the government side and the opposition, but the response mostly expressed has been that chief whips are aware of the MPs’ absence from the house.

“Though the nature of the MPs’ job allows them to attend to other businesses including ministerial and constituency assignments and needs, we have to find a way of dealing with absenteeism,” Msowoya said.

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Msowoya who would not disclose when the gadgets will be installed, disclosed that, among others, the equipment will be generating data of MPs entering the house.

MPs pocket K50,000 every day as sitting allowance.

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Diocesan Secretary for Mzuzu, Arnold Msimuko, said the conduct by the MPs is deplorable saying they are stealing from tax payers.

“They are setting bad precedence being people who are supposed to serve Malawians. Where is prudence and integrity for MPs who get money and never attend meetings? These are not things Members of Parliament should be doing because Malawi is struggling financially and we feel. Their absence in the chamber is uncalled for,” Msimuko said.

He said the donor community is watching very closely and Malawi is sending a bad signal to the global world.

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